The good ones will rise like cream to the top

Random thought, while I wander back through all the grim list posts and catch up on today's commentary. You all are so fun to read about, in some surprising and interesting ways.


Anyway, I keep seeing people say that there's no need for gatekeepers in self-publishing, because the good books will rise to the top, and the crud will stay in the 99c slushpile. I saw it said just yesterday in one of that thread on GR that turned super nasty all of a sudden. Right alongside were posts from authors who say "Why post negative reviews" or "I only post really positive reviews or none at all". 


And there's the problem, you can't have both. Everything isn't cream. Some of it has to be the skim milk that cream is floating on. And some of it is even that lumpy stuff from when the milk accidentally got left out on the bench while you went away for the weekend.


I've seen it argued that if you only post the positive, then the bad books won't have any reviews, and that's how you'll tell. But new books only just published don't have reviews either. Or books that have been out a while but weren't marketed at all, and nobody noticed. And some of those latter two categories might be gems, but we still can't tell.


If nobody ever posts negative reviews, or even just neutral reviews, there's nothing for the good ones to float on, they'll all just be drowning in a bunch of "everything is just as good, everyone gets a gold star just for showing up" and the reviews are totally meaningless.


As much as everyone wishes, there can't just be good stuff floating on the top without the less good for it to float on.